When I was a kid, every year, the karate studio I went to would use the holidays as a time for giving to those in need — we'd deliver entire Thanksgiving meals to families around our local neighborhoods the day before Thanksgiving, and on Christmas Eve, we would deliver toys and other gift items that were donated for many of those same families. It was my favorite holiday tradition. If you're looking to play the part of Santa Claus and bring holiday miracles this year, there are many
ways to donate toys to kids this season to ensure that everyone has a happy holiday.
You'd be surprised how many children in need receive things like undergarments, socks, shoes, and clothing for the holidays. While this is so needed and important, they also deserve to have a little Christmas magic and a toy or game — we could all use a little more fun in our lives, but these children do, especially. (Also, how fun is it to buy a new Barbie or find a book a kid specifically asked for?) There are so many volunteer opportunities around us, and this list proves that no matter where you live, there are always ways to give back during the holidays, and every day.
The United States Postal Service's
Operation Santa initiative brings Christmas miracles to children in need by volunteers reading through letters to Santa from children, shopping for the gifts requested in the letters, wrapping said gifts, and having the gift shipped to the child via the USPS. You can pick as many letters as you'd like either individually, or as a team, per the USPS website.
If you're looking for somewhere to start but are unsure where to begin, check out the
Volunteer Match website. There you can type in your city, state, and zip code and different opportunities will be generated near you. There are all sorts of opportunities, but you can choose opportunities based on different categories, including seniors, animals, arts and culture, education, children, and more.
Per the website,
Cradles to Crayons has a three-step model to provide kids with essentials they need. Toys and donations are collected through community drives, then the items are processed by volunteers in a warehouse, and finally the packages from "The Giving Factory" are distributed to local children who are in need.
Buy-Nothing Groups On Social Media
Check on Facebook for your local Buy-Nothing Group. In these groups, you can post items you're willing to give away for free, and others can comment whether they want the items or not. This includes toys. These pages are a great place to go when you're cleaning and organizing toys to donate before Christmas morning to ensure other children have a great Christmas as well.
Toys for Tots has been around since 1947, and per the website, they've been able to distribute 584 million toys to 265 million children to date. You can either donate financially or with a toy by creating a peer-to-peer fundraising page, using their " virtual toy box," or have your company be a corporate sponsor.
Your Local Women and Children's Shelter
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womenshelters.org and find emergency shelters, transitional housing, domestic violence shelters, and family shelters near you who I'm sure would love donations. This website is also super helpful if you are in need of assistance and aren't sure where to turn.
Walmart and The Salvation Army are teaming together to ensure all children "feel the joy of Christmas" in 2020. At every Walmart, you'll find an "
Angel Tree" and donors can shop for each child's Christmas wishlist by pulling a tag off the tree at the store. You can also shop online via the website.
Go to any local church in your neighborhood and I can guarantee they have some sort of drive going on for the holidays, whether for people in the community at large, or for folks in their own congregations that need some holiday cheer. Many denominations have a charities website where you can find out who to donate to directly, including the
Catholic Charities USA website.
With nearly 1,800 local United Ways around the world, you're sure to find a way to help a family in need (or receive help if you're a family in need) by browsing the organization's website. Via the
United Way 211 website, you can look for donation opportunities in your area, including Toys for Tots.
Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS)
Check out your local DCFS website, call their number, and ask for a staff member to pair you with a child to shop for. The staff member will bring the gifts back to the office and deliver them to the children.
"A lot of churches do this, but we always have a good number of community members that want to help out," Holly Line, Georgia Department of Family and Children's Services director for Fayette County tells Romper. "There are a few families that do it every Christmas — they try to get matched with children that are their children’s ages and they all go together as a family."